CHARLESTON -- A woman is suing an insurance agency, its company and two employees for negligence and fraud, among other things.
Betty Bell's husband, Robert Lee Bell Sr., purchased an automobile insurance policy in February 2006 from Madison Insurance Agency and Encompass Insurance Company, according to a complaint filed Oct. 29 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Mrs. Bell claims her husband paid his premiums and maintained his insurance in good standing.
Mr. Bell died as a result of a collision on Jan. 1, 2008, which was deemed the other driver's fault and Mrs. Bell was appointed executrix of his Estate. Mrs. Bell claims she then made a claim to the insurance company for underinsured motorist proceeds following to her and her husband's insurance policy.
On Oct. 31, 2008, Mrs. Bell received a phone call from Marlene Walker, an employee of the insurance agency, regarding insurance policy forms related to new coverage that Mrs. Bell had purchased in July 2008. Walker informed Mrs. Bell she needed to sign these new forms.
Shawn Walker, another employee of the insurance agency, came to Mrs. Bell's home Nov. 5, 2008, with the forms and told her to forms were related to her new policy.
Mrs. Bell claims when she reviewed the forms, she found one titled "Underinsured Motorist Coverage Offer Form" that was backdated February 2006, she inquired about whether or not the form applied to her new vehicle, or Mr. Bell's old vehicle. She claims Mr. Walker then admitted the form was related to Mr. Bell's old vehicle.
According to the suit, if Mrs. Bell signed the form, it would have resulted in a waiver of UIM benefits otherwise due to the potential beneficiaries of Mr. Bell's Estate.
Mrs. Bell is suing for compensatory and punitive damages for negligence, unfair trade practices, breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress/outrageous conduct, civil conspiracy, fraud and constructive fraud. She is being represented by James R. Akers II of Akers Law Offices.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charles E. King.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-2035